May 21, 2012
Out of Left Field
When You Can't Buy a Loss
I spent 10 years living in Philadelphia. I moved there on a lark, intending to leave almost immediately, but every time I’d try, I’d fail. I got the first job I cared about there, did the dating thing, met my wife*, attended and graduated from graduate school, and had my children there, all in the city.
* Me: Hello, I’m Matt. Woman: Hello, I’m your wife.
The one constant throughout was the Phillies. Every year as often as I could, I’d hop on the subway (“the El”) and take it to its southern-most terminus, what used to be called Pattison Avenue Station.* In all that I attended, three specific games stand out, two for their status in Philly city history and one for what happened to me.
* It’s now called AT&T. Not AT&T Station, just AT&T. Apparently it’s no longer a transit terminus and now just a giant logo floating in nebulous space over South Philly. Seriously.
When I moved to Philadelphia the Phillies still played in the giant concrete toilet known as the Vet. I know that isn’t exactly an original description for the place, but it’s truly appropriate. The fans were almost as bad as the stadium, and the team was almost as bad as the fans, though to the Phillies’ credit, the players didn’t often get into fights with each other, smoke weed during the game, or urinate in full view of stadium officials. Getting tickets was never difficult.
Soon after arriving in Philadelphia, my roommate decided I should attend my first game. There was occasion, too: Phillies starter Omar Daal was attempting to lose his 20th game. The Phillies were putrid that year, managing 65 wins purely out of obligation. They had an imposing middle of the order featuring at 26-year-old Bobby Abreu, a 25-year-old Scott Rolen, and a 23-year-old rookie named Pat Burrell, but little else.